2014 State Relations updates
As the Legislature approached its scheduled first adjournment, the key issue of the last week of the regular session became K-12 school funding.
The legislative work this week was primarily on the floor of the House and Senate. Both chambers churned through a number of bills that will either be passed on to the Governor for consideration, or will be placed in conference committees for further negotiations.
This week was relatively quiet on higher education issues. The only real action occurred in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which kept the recommendations from the subcommittee. For KU that results in partial restoration of the FY 2014 salary reduction and full restoration of the FY 2015 salary reduction, but no funding for the Kansas Institute for Translational Chemical Biology. While this is unfortunate, the budget is not yet completed in the House or Senate.
The House Appropriations Committee made budget recommendations on Thursday. The recommendations included half of the Governor’s recommended salary restoration in FY 2014 and the full restoration in FY 2015.
Our focus this week has been on the budget. Several individual meetings were held to walk House Appropriations Committee members through the impact that the "salary cap" had on the University of Kansas Medical Center budget last year and the importance of the Governor’s budget recommendations.
The Kansas Legislature has adjourned today, with very little fanfare over the turn-around deadline. As I explained last week, the deadline requires bills to be passed on to the non-originating chamber for continued debate. Of course, there are always exemptions allowed and issues re-instated for debate in bills that are exempt of the deadlines. Legislators will not return until Wednesday, March 5.
This week was a continuation of many issues from the previous week. The Senate Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education was expected to make budget recommendations on Monday February 17. The recommendations have been postponed until Tuesday, February 25, and the full Senate Ways and Means Committee will make recommendations on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee will make recommendations on the higher education budgets on Monday, February 24. These recommendations will give us a good understanding of the path forward this session.
This week was very busy for the university. The three B’s, budgets, bonding, and breakfast were the themes of the week.
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little delivered testimony on the university budget to the Senate Ways & Means Subcommittee on Education and the House Education Budget Committee during hearings at the Statehouse on February 12. She gave an overview of the university budget and the Changing for Excellence efficiency initiative, and detailed how KU's Bold Aspirations strategic plan will benefit students and the state.
Work on the budget and other policy issues picked up this week, with the exception of Tuesday and Wednesday, of course. Topeka received over 12” of snow, closing the Legislature both days. Nevertheless, a couple of policy bills received hearings this week.
Wednesday saw great celebration of the anniversary of the founding of Kansas, as well as a ceremony dedicating the remodeled Statehouse. The debate and educational hearings in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature also picked up this week.
The big news this week is related to the Midwest Higher Education Compact (MHEC). President Larry Isaak presented information on the MHEC to several committees, while Representative Mark Rhoades, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced a bill, HB 2470, to allow Regents universities to use MHEC for their property insurance needs.
The University of Kansas Medical Center administers the Kansas Bridging Plan (KBP), a loan forgiveness program designed to encourage primary care physicians to remain in rural Kansas upon completion of residency training.
The Health Education Initiative seeks to address the state's crucial shortage of doctors, especially in rural communities.
Well folks, the Kansas Legislature is off and running!
The session is off to a fairly slow start this week. They began with a ceremonial start to the session on Monday and a few committee meetings and presentations on Tuesday.
The University of Kansas seeks state funding to support crucial infrastructure for a Kansas Institute for Translational Chemical Biology. The institute will promote and conduct research in translational biology and early stage drug development, which includes interacting with other universities and corporate partners to promote drug discovery.
The University of Kansas Cancer Center not only is developing treatments and cures, it is also contributing to the regional economy. This fact sheet details some of the ways the cancer center is bringing jobs and prosperity to Kansas and the area. (Originally posted 02/25/13; Updated 01/13/14)